Driver pleads guilty to manslaughter Passenger killed in auto accident

January 12, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

A Montgomery County man pleaded guilty in Carroll Circuit Court yesterday to automobile manslaughter and driving while intoxicated in the July 13 death of a 29-year-old Westminster man.

Wade Mendes, 48, entered the guilty pleas in exchange for a prison sentence of no more than five years.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped charges of homicide by motor vehicle, reckless driving, exceeding the posted speed and failure to drive right of center.

According to court records, Russell Adam Jones was killed when he was thrown out of the 1970 Chevrolet Nova that Mr. Mendes was driving when the car hit a guard rail on Route 97 and flipped over several times. Mr. Jones, who was found 50 feet from the car, was pronounced dead at the scene.

At the time of the accident, Mr. Mendes lived in the same house as the victim, who was the son of Dr. Richard Jones, the Carroll County medical examiner. Mr. Mendes now lives in Rockville.

The two were on the way to a restaurant that night, court records say. When Mr. Mendes turned onto Route 97, he was heading south and driving his car at about 83 mph in a 55-mile zone.

As Mr. Mendes approached the Morgan Run Bridge, "he lost control of his car, struck the guardrail, continued to slide and began to roll over," court records say.

The accident sent Mr. Mendes to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where his blood alcohol level was found to be 0.18 percent, nearly twice the legal limit in Maryland. Traces of cocaine and marijuana also were found in his blood, court records say.

Mr. Mendes, who will be sentenced by Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. on March 29, had faced a possible jail term of 16 years and a fine of $10,500 before the plea bargain.

Prosecutors are recommending a five-year sentence, but Mr. Mendes will be free to argue for a shorter term as part of the plea bargain.

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